Analog or digital and why?
Both. For all sorts of different reasons. Digital for ease of editing, money saving, a lot of plugins that don't exist in hardware form. Way better signal to noise ratios, which is huge in mixing.
Analog for recording in/front end. For summing, for headroom on a console, for distortion that sounds good! Digital distortion sucks, and analog distortion is amazing.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise that I'm not done till you are 100% happy with your song.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with people, and making great music. Mostly that I can work with music every day! It's pretty amazing to do what you love for a living.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I like to ask what sonic vision they have for their project/song? What landscape are we trying to get people to hear? What's the vibe of the song? What feelings the artist is trying to convey? This goes a long way into how I approach a song, sonically.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Ha, the desert island question... okay, well nowadays, I'd have to have my computer. Then a pair of NS10s with bryston amp. DBX 160s for parallel drum compression, then my Shadow Hills Mastering compressor. Last it's a toss up between a Pultec EQ and the Massenburg Mastering EQ... both amazing for different reasons.
What's your strongest skill?
Mixing is my strongest skill. I feel like this comes from being blessed to have good ears, and a lot of training and practice! If mixing is my best skill it's only because of my best attribute which is my work ethic.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I started out as a musician. I started taking lessons at piano at age 5. Then when I went to middle school I decided to learn drums, and studied the drums all the way through college at Berklee College of Music. I picked up guitar and some other things along the way as well. But when I went to Berklee I discovered my love for recording and especially mixing music. I had always had a love of technology and computers and something just clicked when I decided to start learning the craft of engineering. After I graduated in 2009, I moved to LA and started as a runner at the Record Plant. From there I went on to assistant engineer at Interscope Records, and eventually started engineering there as well. Through interscope I was given the opportunity to work with Rodney Jerkins, so I took that and stayed with him for 5 years. We won a Grammy together and had a bunch of hits, and then I decided it was the right time to go freelance, so here I am!
How would you describe your style?
My style is sort of aggressive but not in a way that's over the top. I like to FEEL music. So I tend to mix loud! I like to create movement within a mix. To have the song move and make you feel, and make you dance if it's supposed to, or cry if it's supposed to.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I'd love to work with Tame Impala right now. I feel like they are blending rock and pop and electronic in a way that doesn't sound forced, but really natural and is kind of futuristic in that sense.
Can you share one music production tip?
I learned from Rodney that a lot of the time, your best option is to take elements out! Let the song build by simplifying it in certain sections, then bring them back HARD when they come back. That gives songs life and your sounds impact.
What type of music do you usually work on?
I work on all types of music, but mainly my clients of late have been in Pop or Electronic music, or Singer/Songwriters.
What do you bring to a song?
What I bring to a mix is musicality. I am a player at heart. I studied music at two colleges, but graduated from Berklee College of Music. I've played with and been around musicians my whole life so I really understand the nuances of different genres and what it takes to bring that sound to life! I was very fortunate to work for and study under hit producer Rodney Jerkins for five years, and he taught me what it takes to create a hit song. And what it takes to compete as a mixer at the highest level. I can bring that Radio Ready quality to your music, whatever genre it might be, because I have fought through all the trials and been ultimately successful even when asked to perform along side the great mixers I mentioned earlier.
What's your typical work process?
I typically spend one to two days on a mix. The first day, I'll prep the session into my template, take out pops-clicks, organize then by the end of that day I'll have the song to probably 95-98%. Then if there is time, I like to load the mix onto my phone, in a playlist of similar songs, and then wake up the next day, drive around in my car and listen to make sure when my mix comes on, it's standing up to the other mixes in the genre. I'll also check on my laptop speakers and earbuds and headphones this day, then send it off to my client, and do any revisions or edits they may hear! Most of the time, the second day is spent doing small tweaks here and there, and printing stems and alternate versions of the mix.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I'm running Pro Tools HD with an new Blackface Apollo 8 Quad into a Dangerous Audio D-Box for some warm analog summing niceness! I also run all my mixes through the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, a lot of the time without any gain reduction at all. I just love the sound of that box even when it's just passing signal! For monitors I have my old workhorse Yamaha NS-10MX's, a pair of the mini NS-10mms and then a pair of the Barefoot Micromain 27s.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I am a fan of the mix engineers Manny Marroquin, Serban Giana, Serban Ghenea, Dave Pensado, Chris Lord Alge, and Jaycen Joshua among many others.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I most commonly do Mixing for my clients. I have put in well over 10,000 hours perfecting my craft and feel I am at the top of my game right now!